Monday, March 1, 2021

Top Seeds Columbus State and Indianapolis Claim Division II Team Indoor Titles; Three Singles Titles for Americans at ITF Grade 4s Last Week; Sarkissian Wins UTR $25K in Newport Beach

Columbus State defended their ITA Division II Men's National Team Indoor title while the University of Indianapolis won the second annual ITA Division II Women's National Team Indoor Championships, and both top seeds did it in impressive fashion. 

Columbus State, who won the inaugural Division II men's team indoor last year, defeated No. 6 seed University of Indianapolis 4-0 in last night's final, with the Cougars winning all three of its matches over the weekend via shutouts. For more on the final, see this article from the ITA website.

In the women's final, Indianapolis defeated No. 7 seed Southwest Baptist 4-0, and they also did not surrender a point in their three victories. If scores are a reliable judge(and they often are not in the clinch format at national tournaments), the women's tournament was more competitive than the men's, with three 4-3 matches and a couple of 4-2s, while the men had nothing closer than one 4-2 match.  For more on the Indianapolis title, see this article from the ITA website.

While the American juniors in the Top 100 were competing at the Grade 1 in Brazil last week, those with lower rankings were winning titles in Mexico, El Salvador, and India.

In Cancun, two American qualifiers, Morgan Pyrz and Preston Stearns, fought through to their first ITF junior circuit titles at the Grade 4 in that resort city. Pyrz, a 16-year-old Texan, won three qualifying and five main draw matches, defeating unseeded Ashton Bowers of the United States 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final. 

Stearns, 17, didn't begin playing ITF junior events until last fall, but this year he has qualified for all three ITF junior tournaments he's played and made the semifinals in the previous two before taking the title this week. Eerily, Stearns defeated his opponent in the final, No. 3 seed Emiliano Aguilera Guerrero of Mexico, by the same score as Pyrz defeated Bowers, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3. Stearns, the younger brother of Texas freshman Peyton Stearns, also made the doubles final, with Lucas Brown and Nicolas Godsick, the No. 3 seeds beating the unseeded Stearns and Ekansh Kumar 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match.

At the Grade 4 in El Salvador, Daniella Benabraham won her first ITF Junior title since 2018, with the 17-year-old from New York defeating unseeded Jade Haller of Switzerland 6-1, 6-1 in the final. The No. 5 seed, Benabraham didn't drop a set in her five victories.

At the Grade 5 in India, 16-year-old Aayush Bhat of the United States partnered with Heerak Vora of India to win the boys doubles title. The No. 3 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Sanjith Devineni of the US and Maanav Jain of India 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

Former Pepperdine star Alex Sarkissian won the UTR $25,000 Pro Tennis Tour tournament in Newport Beach California last week. The 2014 NCAA singles finalist took first place when Great Britain's Ryan Storrie retired after winning the first set 7-5, and trailing 2-3 in the second set.  Sarkissian earned $4,000 and Storrie $2,200.

The men are off this week on the UTR Pro Tennis Tour, while the women are competing in the first of two $25,000 tournaments in the Charleston South Carolina area